Read an exclusive story from Nineteen Claws and a Black Bird by Agustina Bazterrica | Pushkin Press

Read an exclusive story from Nineteen Claws and a Black Bird by Agustina Bazterrica

Posted 12th May 2023

About the book

On hearing her neighbour’s body plummet onto her patio, a woman’s comfortable life seems to split open. A cab driver’s perfectly manicured nails may be concealing grisly secrets. A woman whose partner has left her begins to act out an increasingly deranged set of instructions.

In these tense, macabre stories, acclaimed author of Tender is the Flesh, Agustina Bazterrica strikes to the dark heart of our desires, fears and fantasies. Shocking, brutal, yet glinting with sharp humour, Nineteen Claws and a Black Bird (translated by Sarah Moses) is a breathtaking, unforgettable dive into human monstrousness.

Read an exclusive story below…


(Translated by Sarah Moses)

I have a bunny between my legs. A black one. My bunny’s name is Roberto, but it could have been Ignacio or even Carla. I call him Roberto because he’s shaped like a Roberto. He’s cute because he’s hairy and sleeps a lot. I told my friend Isabel. I said, “Isa, the other day a bunny grew between my legs. Do you have one too?” We went to the toilet at school and she took off her underwear. There was nothing there. She asked me to show her Roberto, but I was embarrassed and I said no. Isabel got mad and said that she’d shown me between her legs and that I was a dummy and she didn’t believe me at all. She’s a dummy too.

Yesterday Isabel told our maths teacher what I’d said about Roberto. Mr García laughed and called me over to talk to him.

“Is what your friend Isabel tells me true?”
“It is true, I saw it!” the dummy yelled. “Mamá told me

that nobody has a bunny between their legs, but she has a black bunny! I saw it, teacher!”

I told her she was a liar because I hadn’t shown her anything. I yelled that she was a dummy and a liar and that I didn’t want to be her friend any more. Isabel started to cry. I didn’t feel bad because she’s no longer my friend. Mr García laughed. He told Isabel to go home and said that later he would explain some things to her. Then he sat down next to me and said, “You’re very pretty. Isabel doesn’t know anything, don’t pay attention to her.” He kissed me and then he did it again. He told me that after class tomorrow he wanted to see my little bunny. He wanted to see it so he could teach it to be on its best behaviour.

I waited for him. He told me to follow him to the toilet because nobody was supposed to find out about our secret.

“What’s your bunny’s name?”
“What a strange name for a bunny! Can I see him?” “I’m embarrassed.”
He sat down next to me and kissed me a lot. He told me I was his favourite student and that I was the prettiest one. “Show him to me, be a good girl. I won’t tell anyone.” He talked a lot and looked at me, and he didn’t talk like he does when he’s in class because he looked at me loads and then he took my hands and told me to lift up my skirt. “Show me your little bunny Roberto,” he said, but I told him Roberto doesn’t like to be called little because he’s big now and a grown-up. Mr García took off my underwear while he kissed my face and hair and mouth and told me to be a good little girl because he was going to teach me a lot of things. When he saw Roberto, he went still and opened his mouth. He was so still that I thought he was playing the statues game. Roberto moved his ears and bared his teeth. Mr García screamed and ran away. Roberto went back to sleep.

Nineteen Claws and a Black Bird by Agustina Bazterrica is out now.